Cinepub


Review: Angry Birds by Jamie

Ever since the release of Super Mario Bros in 1993, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to leech off of the popularity of video games. This was particularly troublesome back in the day because most video games didn’t have much going in the way of plot beyond run right, jump and stomp on bad guys. Studios inevitably found themselves having to try and flesh out these threadbare plots to try and put something on the screen for at least an hour and a half so that they could somehow justify calling it a film.

It’s just like the game you remember and love!

Even as the years have gone by and the games themselves have developed more complex and intricate storylines with more fleshed out and developed characters, for some reason the movies that are adapted from them don’t seem to have been able to bring that to the screen. Max Payne was a game widely regarded for it’s storytelling and strong central character but the movie version is a lukewarm piece of shit starring Mark Wahlberg that no one really remembers any more and rightfully so.

Still, video games are massive money makers and with the right property it should be possible to pull of the seemingly herculean task of actually making a video game movie worth seeing. I won’t lie, some of them do seem like they could be promising. There’s the Duncan Jones helmed Warcraft movie which has some potential and an Assassin’s Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender which could be pretty good. And then there’s Angry Birds. Yes, someone out there saw the travesty that was the Super Mario Bros movie and said to themselves “Can we find a game that has even less of a plot than that and make that into a movie? After all, the only thing that matters is brand recognition. As long as the name gets people to put their money on the counter, who gives a fuck if it has literally any story?”

It’s that easy!.

And so here we are, nearly a quarter of a century later and we find ourselves faced with a movie based on a video game that most people spend five minutes playing at a time while sitting on the toilet. What is the plot of the game? Some pigs steal some birds eggs. The birds want them back. FIne, that’s a perfectly fine and simple setup for a quick little physics puzzle game. I’ll even go so far as to say that it could make a fairly decent basic of a plot for a movie maybe. But the problem is that by adapting that story from a video game, you suddenly find yourself restricted by the rules of that video game. This means that you have to reference things that the video game has in it. For example, one of the characters in The Angry Birds Movie is called Bomb. When he’s upset, he explodes. It’s as simple as that (or it would be if he actually exploded the many, many times he should surely be upset during this film, but I digress). Why does this happen? I dunno. This is perfectly fine as a mechanic for a video game that you’re not meant to put too much though in to. At the end of the day, if the object of the game is to knock down structures and kill pigs, does it matter if it’s an exploding bird or an actual bomb? No. No it does not. But when it’s a talking, emotive character in a movie then there should be some kind of reason? Why do some of these birds have super powers? Why do some of them not? Why did someone decide to make Angry Birds into a movie? These are all questions which probably should be answered.

There are other problems too. Early in the movie, Red, the main character, is sent to an anger management therapy where he meets the previously mentioned Bomb and the small yellow bird named Chuck. Neither of these two actually seem particularly angry. Chuck is literally just fast and Bomb’s only problem is his exploding which generally seems to happen when he is startled rather than infuriated. Why are these two in anger management? Fuck knows. Because Red has to meet them somehow I guess?

Ok, so maybe I’m thinking a little too much about what is ostensibly a children’s movie. Sure, I can understand that and perhaps you’re right. Perhaps the most importnat thing when you really get down to it is whether or not the movie is entertaining. The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. There aren’t really jokes in this movie. Just things happening and then people reacting to them often with a phrase that’s popular at the moment. You know, the kind of timeless humour that will really, really play well in a few years time. And there’s a few jokes sprinkled in for the adults throughout although they are mostly pretty weak such as a book on the pigs ship being called “Fifty Shades of Green.” That kind of thing. In fact, there were maybe two jokes that made me laugh throughout the whole film. One was the line “Something isn’t kosher with these pigs.” and the other was when Red insinuated that another bird looked like he may be a kid abducting paedophile. Hehehehe. Children’s movies. Ok, I’ll admit, Peter Dinklage might have gotten a smile out of me as the Might Eagle but I couldn’t tell you if that was because of the movie or because I thought of Tyrion.

Finally, there’s the message of the movie. Red doesn’t trust these foreigners who have shown up on his land and his ingrained mistrust of strangers is proven to be correct. It turns out that these weird people from a strange land don’t want to be friends! They just want to eat the natives children! Vote Red, 2016. Make Bird Island great again.

Again, I know I’m probably coming down too hard on a piece of shit fluff movie that’s just meant to keep kids entertained for an hour and a half. But there are movies that prove that can be done well and with thought and passion and craft. Movies like How To Train Your Dragon or Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs or, you know, most of Pixar’s catalogue. People deserve better than someone assuming that you’ll cynically pay to see a move just because they recognise the name of it. Your children deserve better than that too.

½ pint out of five for that paedophile joke. Hehehehe.

The Angry Birds Movie

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Review: The Smurfs (2011) by Jamie

I don’t really remember ever watching ‘The Smurfs’ as a kid but I know the basic gist of the whole thing. Bunch of little blue creatures live in a forest and an evil wizard tries to capture them. Pretty simple premise so why not take that idea and stretch it out in a live action/CGI mixed feature length film? Well how about because a) that’s a paper-thin premise that seems like it would require a lot of padding and b) The Smurfs are some of the most irritating fuckers to ever grace the silver screen. This is a point which is actually acknowledged several times throughout the film. If much of the supporting cast are pointing out just how unlikeable the little blue shits are, what makes the film makers believe that anyone watching it should care about them?

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to point a. So how do you pad out such a simple concept? Well, you take the Smurfs and the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and teleport them to modern day Manhattan! It’s a fish out of water story where the characters find themselves confused by the everyday things we take for granted! That concept’s never been done before! (For films that have, to some extent, explored very similar concepts see: Blast From The Past, Coneheads, Crocodile Dundee, Elf, Enchanted, Encino Man, Hercules In New York, The Little Mermaid, Short Circuit, Thor… I think you get my point). I suppose I shouldn’t be to angry with the writers. I imagine they were just told to write a script for a Smurf movie and, honestly, what more could really be done with the concept?

So anyway, The Smurfs are transported to New York and end up staying with Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) Winslow and together the group learn important lessons about how important family is and how you’re more than just one defining characteristic, which may be true for humans but honestly seems to go against everything Smurf society is built on. In fact I imagine the sequel to this film involving Clumsy Smurf bringing this dangerous new philosophy back to the Smurf village and, in turn, starting a revolution against the dictatorial Papa Smurf who was the one who gave them all their predetermined roles in life in the first place. Yes, an encounter with human characters other than a one dimensional bad guy can only lead to the spilling of gallons of blue blood. Will the plucky rebels come out on top or will Papa Smurf be able to retain his iron grip on Smurf Society? Find out in ‘The Smurfs 2: Viva La Smurfolucion!’ coming in the summer of 2013.

Ahem. I seem to have gotten a little sidetracked. There are some amusing moments from the couples interaction with the blue demonspawn most of it stemming from Will’s absolute and completely understandable annoyance when it comes to the way that the Smurfs, well, just the way that the Smurfs are. He rails against them for randomly replacing words with the word Smurf. This makes sense because seriously CAN’T POSSIBLY MAKE ANY SENSE IF YOU USE THE WORD SMURF FOR EVERYTHING! VERBS, ADVERBS, NOUNS, PRONOUNS, PROFANITIES! IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE GRAMATICALLY OR LINGUISTICALLY! I mean, the last thing Patrick says to Grace is “Grace, I smurf you” which is either very sweet or a filthy and degrading insult. There ambiguity of the word Smurf means that there is no way to tell which.

He also points out just how fucking irritating the Smurfs theme tune is which they sing, whistle or hum a fuck load in this goddamn movie. If you’re lucky enough to have never heard the theme tune to the Smurfs, allow me to shatter that peaceful existence you one had and destroy the happiness that once dwelled in your heart:

Yeah, like I said, that theme just keeps coming back again and again and again. There is one time, near the end, where the song is used almost as a war chant a the creatures prepare for their showdown with Gargamel which was, admittedly, kinda inventive. So well done for that I guess.

Speaking of Gargamel, Hank Azaria is actually one of the movies small redeeming features, particularly near the beginning of the film. He also makes a few cracks about The Smurf way of life that everyone has discussed since they got old enough to realise just how fucking weird it was that the Smurfs lived in a village that only had one female. Unfortunately as the film goes on, Azaria gets more and more over the top and eventually becomes almost as irritating as the protagonists. As for the rest of the cast, well, there’s really only one person worth mentioning and that’s Sofia Vergara.

 

Sofia Vergara

I don’t remember anything about her performance,
but she is worth mentioning.

So all in all, just how bad is ‘The Smurfs’? Well, it’s pretty fucking bad, I don’t know how well it would play for kids but really who cares because kids are idiots. If they weren’t then they wouldn’t get smarter as they got older. In terms of these CGI/live action reboots of old cartoon series though, it is better than the Chipmunk movies and the Transformers movies because whilst this film is awful, it does have some redeeming moments here and there and I didn’t feel totally mentally, physically and spiritually drained after watching it unlike those other franchises. On the other hand, it did have one of the worst blasphemies committed against music. The Smurfs replacing various words in ‘Walk This Way’ with word Smurf…Fuckers.

And that’s one of the big problems with these kinds of films. They take these innocent little cartoons that made up many of our childhoods and try and modernise them in a way that just seems tacky, out of place, completely unnecessary and it just reeks of a coroporate type’s idea of getting down with the kids in the most simplistic, basic and crass way possible. “What do kids like? Rap. Can we make the Smurfs rap? Excellent. That should sell a few more tickets.” All it actually ends up doing is to make the whole thing end up seeming like an empty shell of what it once was, putting as little effort as possible into what was once a beloved franchise in order to make a quick buck. And that’s sad… On the other hand:

 

Sofia2

The Smurfs gets one pint out of five.




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